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Claude King, one of Louisiana's greatest songwriters, dies (+video)

Claude King dies but his music lives on. Claude King was one of the original members of the Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis Presley got his start. Claude King's big hit was 'Wolverton Mountain.'

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Country singer-songwriter Claude King, an original member of the Louisiana Hayride who was best known for the 1962 hit "Wolverton Mountain," has died. He was 90. He had just celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary last month.

King was one of the original members of the Louisiana Hayride, the Saturday night show where Elvis Presley got his start and Hank Williams Sr. frequently performed. The show transformed country and western music from 1948 to 1960 — the Hayride's heyday — with music genres including hillbilly, western swing, jazz, blues and gospel. Duane King recalls meeting Presley and Hank Williams Sr. backstage with his dad at the Hayride.

King's hit, "Wolverton Mountain," co-written with Merle Kilgore, was about an Arkansas mountain man, Clifton Clowers, who guarded his daughter from suitors.

"It was a story song, with a sense of humor, and it was an instant hit," said Maggie Warwick, owner of the Louisiana Hayride trademark and the production company, Louisiana Hayride Co. Warwick recalled King as "a legend in the Louisiana music industry, one of the greatest songwriters, and a wonderful friend."

Warwick, who also chairs the Louisiana Music Commission, said King and Tillman Franks were on the Hayride from the very beginning. She said King was known for his guitar-playing skills and knack for writing songs.

"He had a gift for melody and lyrics that was very definable," Warwick said. "The range and melody and the feeling that goes with his songs, when you hear it, it's very unique and identifiable with Claude King. He had a personal style that was all his own."


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